By Zach Hester

If you were searching a crystal ball back in 2010, I highly doubt you would predict that Cat from Victorious would not only be the biggest pop star of her generation, but also have THREE number-one albums.

With today’s release of thank u, next, I think Ariana Grande might just have a fourth one.

The record feels like a triumph over the broken feelings she has discussed since ending her engagement to SNL’s Pete Davidson and after the unfortunate death of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller. To me, thank u, next seems to be sort of therapeutic for the singer. This might her most tonally consistent record yet as well.

After working your way through a somewhat forgettable opener like “imagine” and a few other songs that will have to grow on me with more listens, the tour de force of “fake smile” channels the feelings I got from Paramore’s 2017 record After Laughter. It’s about taking down that fake front for cameras and other people to show your real self to the world, which seems to be a developing theme throughout the record.

Underneath the reggae and trap beats, Grande channels self-empowerment, the deeper side of love and unbridled star power. Her unmatched vocals radiate in tracks “ghostin” and “bloodline” prove that she is the best of the best when it comes to modern-day vocalists.

The former of those last two mentioned songs (“ghostin”) is beautifully tragic and stands out as something I would refer to as the ‘heartbreaker’ of the record. Fans may also notice that it’s set to a slowed down version of Mac Miller’s “2009.”

The singles from the record “thank u next” and “7 rings” as well as “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” are easily the most catchy songs on the album. All three of these have already or are destined to be at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

I’m not sure that her work will ever live up to the heights of 2016’s Dangerous Woman for me personally, but Ariana Grande remains one of my favorite artists that regularly tears up modern radio. While I might not have completely loved 2018’s Sweetener, she more than makes up for that with me through this record. I can’t wait to see this one top the charts like almost all of its predecessors.

Best Songs: thank u next, ghostin, fake smile, break up with your girlfriend i’m bored

Rating: ★★★★½